Acustica Audio released Sienna Sphere, a new product in its Sienna range of headphone mixing plug-ins. Sienna started with headphone correction and virtual mix rooms. There is even an iOS version of it. Now Acustica is taking the concept in another direction – you can mix 3D audio (such as Dolby Atmos and other surround formats) with Sienna Sphere using standard headphones.
Acustica Audio Sienna Sphere
Sienna Sphere is not an authoring tool but rather a plug-in playing 3D audio mixes through your headphones. This means you don’t need to have headphones that support 3D audio or a multi-speaker setup to mix. What does the trick is proprietary binaural processing, which is necessary for playback with “normal” headphones. However, Sienna Sphere is not limited to horizontal and frontal levels. It also handles audio sources placed above and behind you.
A total of up to 79 virtual loudspeaker arrangements are possible in the plug-in (from 2.0 up to 7.1.2 – 7.1.4 – 7.1.6 – 9.1.4 and 9.1.6). In addition, the plug-in supports mixing with room corrections inside three Atmos studios (HOG Studios, Experimental Studio, and Officina 5.1) with a total of eight different simulations. With Sphere, you also get almost 200 headphone emulations to check your mixes with the frequency response of different models of headphones.
There are still specific software requirements to mix in Dolby Atmos. Your DAW or NLE system must support ADM files and Atmos-O. You also need the associated renderer app (some DAWs, such as Logic Pro and Nuendo, already have their own renderer). You can find information about the renderer here. Additionally, Acustica Audio recommends that you read the PDF manual before purchasing. The document can be downloaded from the developer’s website. There, you will find more information about mixing with each of the major DAWs.
3D audio is becoming increasingly relevant in the music world. Apple even sees it as the way forward for consumer hi-fi. For example, it added native Dolby Atmos mixin to Logic Pro and its Apple Music streaming service already supports spatial sound. I give it just two years before anyone can mix spatial audio without much or any specialized equipment (sorry, you still need the knowledge).
Price and availability
Until January 6 2022, you will pay EUR 99 instead of the regular EUR 149. Sienna Sphere works under macOS 10.14 or later and Windows 10 or later in 64-bit VST, AU and AAX formats. A demo version and a PDF user manual can be downloaded from the product page.